Every Weezer Album Ranked From Worst To Best
Ranking Weezer’s discography – well, their 13 studio albums – from worst to best is tough. That’s a hell of a lot of music to weigh up and assess. Full disclosure: we recently asked Rivers Cuomo if he would like to do it for us and we were politely and reasonably informed by his publicist to keep the focus of our time with him on the ‘Teal’ and ‘Black’ albums. Fair enough, really. Those are the creations he’s most recently concerned himself with and we respect any artist’s right to keep their eyes on the road ahead rather than fixate on the rearview. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t do it. And we say this fully aware that the internet has extensively gone round and round in these circles for a while. But this is the definitive word on the subject, once and for all. Because it is correct.
P.S. We may have lost our minds a little in the process. Apologies in advance…
P.P.S. This list does ignore the compilation albums Death To False Metal (which would appropriately reside somewhere at the lower end of this rundown, if you’re wondering) and the deluxe edition, rarities and B-side packed versions of the highest-ranking albums. Otherwise it’d only muddy some already pretty brown-ish waters.
13. Make Believe (2005)
Look, Make Believe coming in at the bottom of the pile is quite harsh – we’re willing to accept that. Technically, it’s not even the worst record in the Weezer back catalogue. ‘So why is it propping up the rest of the records in this ranking then, Kerrang!?’ we hear you cry. Well, firstly, because you have to make at least one controversial call on these things and secondly, because this is the exact moment that Weezer’s slide into full-blown WTF-ery truly kicked in. It introduced new lows for a band who’d only really brushed with the odd misstep previously. If you’re willing to give Beverly Hills a pass (which we are, though many may not) then it has one truly standout moment, but this is also the album that gave the world We Are All On Drugs and its main saving grace is that it’s so terrible we at least remember that one. You could argue that filler and Weezer albums weren’t really a thing pre-2005, but this was the moment when quality control went walkies.
12. Hurley (2010)
We’ve put Hurley in here simply because we had to include it somewhere. It is a studio album bearing the name of Weezer on it, after all. But let’s put it like this – when this album turns 10 years old in 2020, literally no-one will be calling for a live tour of the band playing it in full. Or even partially. Thankfully it’s been so long ago now that we’ve forgotten almost all of the songs, so at least there’s that. Harsh? Possibly, but that’s just how we feel. Sorry…
11. Weezer ‘Black’ (2019)
Like Hurley, the long-fêted, super-meh ‘Black’ album had to go somewhere, so here it is. And like Hurley, we’ve forgotten almost all of the songs. The main difference here being that this one only came out last week…
10. Raditude (2009)
Not only does Raditude have that brilliant cover art with a dog in mid-air, but it also kicks off with the hugely underrated (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To. Not much of the rest of it merits much deeper analysis or mention, however. Next…
9. Pacific Daydream (2017)
Technically – admittedly, this is true of most of what we’ve callously dismissed above – this is a very well written set of songs, by highly accomplished artists expanding their sonic palette. It just doesn’t feel very Weezer in the process. In a way it comes off more like a side-project record released under the wrong name. Good songs, sure, but definitely a collection that comfortably fits into the lower end of the band’s recorded spectrum.
8. Weezer ‘Red’ (2008)
Alright, this is where things start to get interesting. Fair’s fair, this album is a bit of a car crash and has the feel of Rivers Cuomo going through something of a midlife crisis. The cowboy dad vibes of the cover are just the start, but there are a handful of huge tunes on here, and as such, this one gets a sort-of thumbs up. Mainly because Pork And Beans feels classic, in sound at least, Heart Songs unashamedly drips with dorky cheese and The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations On A Shaker Hymn) is an impressive indulgence of one man’s ultimate rock star fantasies. That said, there’s 16 tracks on this thing (using the version they’ve chosen to put out on streaming services) and a good portion of them would have been best left on the cutting room floor.
7. Weezer ‘Teal’ (2019)
A full-blown covers album slap-bang in the middle of a proper band’s 25-year career? A pretty damning indictment of at least half of said band’s catalogue, that. Still, this is more fun than it’s not and that alone sets it apart from a lot of those albums ranking lower. The biggest of ups for just putting it out carefree-as-anything, too. More of that spirit channelled a little more cannily through the years and some of the lesser LPs on here might have benefitted immensely.
6. Maladroit (2002)
Something of an odd one, this. Especially as there had been such a long wait between 1996’s Pinkerton and 2001’s self-titled ‘Green’ album. But all of a sudden Weezer were in the mood to splurge and spoil their fanbase just one year on from the latter. There’s barely a foot put wrong here, although it would probably flow a damn sight more smoothly and efficiently on the whole were it three songs lighter. As every Weezer fan knows deep down, 10 songs that get the job done in 30-ish minutes is perfect. Bonus points for doing a video with the Muppets though. Respect.
5. Weezer ‘Green’ (2001)
When this came out it was heralded as a welcome return to form by the sort of absolute idiots who hurt Rivers’ feelings by saying Pinkerton was bad. They had a point perhaps, in that these songs did sonically owe more to the debut album’s effervescent breeziness on the surface, but look under the hood and there wasn’t much of an engine running. Being generous, the ‘Green’ album is in some ways the perfect Weezer record. It combines all the classic tropes – distorted guitars, lots of harmonised melodies and simple lyrics that deal in slacker self-deprecation while taking a sideways look at the world, but this was the beginning of the band’s biggest and most persistent problem. In taking the criticism that befell the heart and soul that went into his previous album so personally, Rivers Cuomo reacted with something that sounded slick and ticked all the right boxes, but it made for a somewhat mechanical appropriation of what had come before and lacked a personal touch to really make those songs stick in any meaningful manner. Ultimately, this one is pretty to look at for a diverting moment or two, but there’s not much to stimulate true love long-term.
4. Everything Will Be Alright In The End (2014)
And just when a lot of old school Weezer fans thought they were out, they were reeled right back in. Proving that he still had the inclination / courage / will / desire to actually say something that rang true on record again, Rivers Cuomo put out the band’s most daring album of all. Yep, we went there. From the self-referential ‘apology’ notes and confessional lyrics of opening one-two, Ain’t Got Nobody and Back To The Shack, the Weezer frontman truly stuck his head above the parapet for the first time in almost 20 years. Allied to a sort of mad, loosely conceptual offering of songs that also sounded huge, this oddly underappreciated album is right up there with their best in so many ways. It would ultimately prove to be a momentary return to ‘that kind of songwriting’, but knowing that the man many had given up on still had this sort of gold in the reserves made for a heart-warming and reassuring experience. It also makes all the disappointments that came before and since so gutting.
3. Weezer ‘White’ (2016)
And if that one didn’t convince the remaining doubters, this one definitely did. It’s the closest that Weezer have ever come to being that mythical Beach Boys but punk-yet-not-really-punk thing that everyone always pegged them as. Another teasing glimpse at a very strange band all told, deep into the game, still capable of hitting glorious heights yet only too willing to pick up a thread and then discard it soon after. Even if they never write a single other song like this again, at least we’ll always have Summer Elaine And Drunk Dori. You can probably skip Thank God For Girls, mind.
That said – Rivers, if you’re listening, White and EWBAITE is how you ‘do’ modern-day Weezer. That’s your milieu, dude. Look, if you wanna write throwaway pop songs that might make a big stack of cash, we get it – fill your boots. But do those songs need to be Weezer songs? Honestly, give us a call. We can explain in greater detail if you like.
2. Weezer ‘Blue’ (1994)
A superior debut offering by anyone’s standards. This one did wonders for all of us who were far too uncool to ever truly fit in with the metal kids, the punk kids, or the whatever-fad-is-in-at-any-given-moment kids. It gave sonic sanctuary. It redefined what it meant to be a ‘rock star’ without intending to. It introduced the world to 10 timeless tunes so perfectly put together that they make you want to sing along with them and act out every instrument’s parts all at once. Truthfully, so much has been said of the genius of this record that there’s not a lot of anything to be gained from adding to the noise. But one thing worth giving a special shoutout to is the much-missed and criminally underrated character that then-bassist Matt Sharp brought to the fold. No diss on the two dudes who followed him (and each have obviously played huge parts in the overall story in their own rights), but Weezer lost something that’s never quite been replaced when he left the band.
1. Pinkerton (1996)
All we’re saying is, if you’re one of the baddies who played this record first time around and took a pot shot at the band then shame on you (yes, we’re aware that’s rich given some of the above). History has since been kinder of course (and in the case of one song in particular – well, the sentiment of one lyric anyway – subsequently not so kind). The record’s influence would outlive the initial drubbing it received in some quarters at least, and despite being over two decades old, if you play it back today it still absolutely rips from the stereo. That’s testament to the oceans of hurt and pain and honest-to-goodness, real life struggle in the seams of its songs. Rivers Cuomo had never (and sadly has never since) sounded so direct, so pure, so raw. In some ways he paid a heavy price for bearing his soul so nakedly. But if you’re coming to this band for something beyond a catchy hook, with the rarest of insights into the troubles of the enigmatic central player in the story, this is a fascinating document. It remains the band’s creative peak and a rightful fan favourite. They would and likely never will be the same again because of it, so of-the-moment were the songs, but what a moment it was. It’s for these reasons and many more than space here will allow, Pinkerton is the best Weezer album.
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